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My daughter thinks she's fat

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Old 04-22-2011, 03:35 PM   #1
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Default My daughter thinks she's fat

This has got me really concerned. First off, my daughter is 7 ... yes, you read that right, 7. She's very slim and athletic. She does cheerleading, soccer, etc. She came home from school the other day and said that she needed to exercise. At first I was like, oh ok. Her school just recently received a large grant for physical education and they have been implementing a lot of new fitness and healthy eating programs. I figured it was just because of what they had been learning about so I let it go.

After talking to her later that night, I found out the real reason she wanted to exercise. She said that there was a girl in her class whose, "tummy is smaller" than hers. Needless to say we had a long talk that night about it. It's hard to explain body image issues to a 7 year old. I thought she understood and that would be the end of it. But, it's not. She is still semi-obsessing about "needing" to exercise when she gets home from school. She is a good eater and that hasn't changed. Although she has started asking for me to send a "healthy snack" to school with her instead of her buying her snack there.

She has never shown concerns like this before. In fact, whenever someone would tell her she was pretty, her response would be "I know."

I'm worried that my own weight issues are having an effect on her. When we first started to eat better we stressed the importance of healthy meals to the kids because they wanted their corn dogs and pizza back. We have never really stressed exercise because they are already so active doing the things they want to do. Lately though, I have been talking to my DH a lot about wanting to exercise and get more physical activity myself (because the extent of my own physical activity is housework). I'm really worried that she has overheard me and my own concerns are rubbing off on her. I'm not a hundred percent sure what to do about it though. I'm glad that she is willing to eat healthy foods and be fit at such a young age but I don't want it to go to the extreme and turn into body image issues or an eating disorder as she gets older.

Any advice or suggestions?
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Old 04-22-2011, 03:53 PM   #2
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She probably is picking up a bit on your own struggle, and I don't think there's a lot you can do about that. I think you can reassure her that she's "just right" without implying that other sizes and shapes aren't. I wouldn't make too big a deal of it.

As far as the exercise goes, you can mention that all the things she already does are exercise. So if she comes home wanting to exercise you can just suggest some of the things she might be doing anyway. If she pushes, suggest something you and she can do together, a walk or a bike ride. It's great if she develops healthy habits now. If you keep it fun, I don't think it will blossom into an obsession.
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Old 04-22-2011, 04:01 PM   #3
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I wouldn't worry about it. I remember that when i was that age, i'd weigh myself daily and express some level of alarm if the scale went up...probably copying the behavior of my mom. But i never developed disordered eating until much later. It's not like i'd restrict my eating or anything (when i was 7). So i say if she expresses that she wants to exercise, tell her that's great...go ride bikes with your friends/play hide and seek/whatever kids do for fun.
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:44 PM   #4
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Hmm. The thing that would be the most
worrying his her observations at how
another child's tummy is smaller than hers.

I think the best thing to do is remind
her she's beautiful. I don't want to
say "don't talk about it", but maybe
just lay back and see how she does
the next week or so. Don't mention
it to her and maybe it'll disappear.

I don't know, I'm not a mother.
But I do have a 5 year-old and
a 9 year-old brother so I know
the attention span of a child on
a particular subject.


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Last edited by Ciao : 04-22-2011 at 11:44 PM.
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